Before You Choose & Buy a Pilates Ring

Woman standing on yoga mat using Pilates Magic Circle

Verywell / Ben Goldstein

The magic circle is a Pilates tool, created by founder Joseph Pilates, that's intended to help practitioners find their center. It's also referred to as a fitness circle, exercise ring, Pilates ring, or fitness ring, but "magic circle" is the preferred name within Pilates. It is said that Joseph Pilates made the first magic circle from the ring typically used around a keg. 

The circle is intended as a secondary prop, and all Pilates mat exercises can be done without a magic circle. But since they're lightweight and inexpensive, and have a variety of purposes within a Pilates practice, they've become popular props for use at home and in the studio.

What Is a Magic Circle?

The Pilates magic circle is a ring, usually made of flexible metal or rubber, about 13 inches in diameter, with small pads on either side. Users shouldn't pick one up and try to crush it together (although that's usually the first inclination). Instead, try Pilates exercises that especially incorporate the magic circle, such as the palm pressstanding leg press, side-lying leg press, and many upper body toning moves.

Magic circles are perfect for travel. They don't weigh much, they lay flat, and they take up very little space in your luggage.

Magic Circle Materials and Resistance

Most magic circles are made of flexible metal. There are some that are all rubber, but the rubber models tend to be on the softer side or too mushy. If you are a stronger person who wants a muscular challenge, then you will not want a rubber ring or even one of the "lite" versions of the metal.

If your purpose is mild resistance and more body placement oriented, then a lighter ring could be perfect. If you are looking for an exercise ring that will stand up to a lot of use (for example, studio use), then you will want a regular metal ring.

Magic Circle Padding

It used to be that there were pads only on the outside of the circle. The newer trend is to put pads on the inside of the ring as well. This makes the equipment more versatile. An exercise like the rainbow, for example, where you stabilize the ring with pressure on the inside, is much easier with pads.

A magic circle provides muscular feedback and gentle to moderate resistance during a Pilates exercise. It is not intended to provide a heavy strength workout.

How to Buy a Magic Circle

The best place to start is by asking your Pilates instructor what they recommend, or testing a magic circle that your studio has available. If you do decide to buy one to use at home, it may be worth getting it at a shop where you can test it out and get a feel for it first. You can also buy magic circles online.

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